January 1, 2019. A new year.
Another cycle of 12 months has just passed us, and a new year has arrived at our doorstep. As human beings we get charged up every time there is something new in front of us. Having something new is exciting as there is lots of potential to make a true difference. It brings in hope and a new-found optimism. The energy and the power that comes henceforth is raw and needs proper channelling before it ends, and January 2, 2019 starts to feel just like December 31, 2018.
How do we prevent something like that from happening and allow the benefits of the ‘new-found optimism’ to prolong over the next 12 months or even greater? This question has always dazed people especially when resolutions that one set forward in the new year collapse within hours, days or even months after they come into effect.
I believe that ‘intention’ is the first step in a process to ensure that resolutions live or last longer. Resolutions are seeds of newness one finds in the new year. To cultivate or grow them takes some hard work, yet it is not impossible.
I am a strong believer in the principles outlined by Charles Duhigg in his path breaking book ‘The Power of Habit’. In the book, Charles explains the habit loop that has three stages: the cue or the trigger that causes the habit, the routine which is the behaviour and the reward. The thing with most resolutions is that we are good in defining the ‘What (trigger)’ and sometimes the ‘Why (reward)’. Most of the time we fail to define the ‘How (routine)’ which causes the resolutions to fail. For example, just by taking a gym membership doesn’t mean that you lose body fat or weight. At the same time if you work 15+hrs a day and are tired by the time you reach home, you will have only yourself to blame if you cannot find the time to burn the fat, because there is a disconnect between what you want and what you have.
So how then one gets around and use the power of habit in meeting resolutions? That’s where the power of intention comes into play. Intention is the foundation stone of behaviours. Behaviours are key to the success of any habits. It is important to define and agree upon the routine prior to embarking on any habit — or resolution. So how do you define the routine?
Stephen Covey’s habit (2) states that ‘Begin with the end in mind’. If you clearly define the end (reward) by being specific about it, you begin the journey to a successful resolution. For e.g., ‘I want to be 90kgs by the end of December 2019’ by ‘____ (?)’. This is where one needs to define a meaningful routine. For example:
– By going to gym by myself and then get bored and drop off in a week OR
– By employing the services of a fitness trainer and work with him in meeting my objectives?
By having clarity on the routine i.e., challenging it so that it is robust and do not fail, there is a better potential to succeed.
To summarise, resolutions work well when developed as a habit. Any habit needs a strong definition (‘What’), reason (‘Why’) and behaviour (‘How’) to succeed. Start with the ‘why’, define the ‘how’ and see how the ‘what’ starts to make sense.
Happy New Year.